Updates and Activities of the NCREDC
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council (NCREDC) held a public meeting on Friday at the High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid. The meeting, attended by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, provided the Council the opportunity to kick off its planning for 2015, report on progress to date and begin discussions on new initiatives as proposed in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Opportunity Agenda and Executive Budget, including the Upstate Revitalization Fund and the New NY Broadband Fund.
In addition, the Council welcomed three new members—Joseph Lightfoot, Chair of the St. Lawrence County Legislature; Robert Lenney, Location Manager for Alcoa-Massena Operations; and Joseph Giroux, Owner of Giroux’s Family Farm.
The new members will fill vacant seats on the Council and work together, under the leadership of co-chairs Tony Collins and Garry Douglas, to build on the region’s recent success in the Regional Council competition and advance its strategies for economic growth and job creation.
“Taking Governor Cuomo’s lead to empower regional stakeholders to advance community development and job creation, the North Country Council has created a strategic vision and achieved results based on broad public participation and unprecedented collaboration across the North Country,” said Tony Collins, President of Clarkson University and Council Co-Chair. “With the infusion of new voices and ongoing outreach to gain ideas and perspectives to strengthen our economy, the North Country is well positioned to partner in the 2015 Opportunity Agenda goals and programs.”
“It’s a new year and that brings new opportunities for advancing the North Country economy,” said Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and Council Co-Chair. “Everyone remains engaged and enthused as we begin the process of developing updated strategies and priorities this year for both round five of the ten region competition as well as the Governor’s proposed competition for part of the new $1.5 billion Upstate Revitalization Fund. From broadband to tourism to biotech, real progress has been made in the North Country over the last four years, but the best is yet to come as we build on our successes and look to take things to the next level.”
During the meeting, Council workgroups reported on their progress and plans for 2015.
The Agriculture workgroup provided an overview of the USDA and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets grants awarded in the region, and asked for a letter of support from the NCREDC in favor of a project to add forest products and community supported agriculture to the Adirondack Harvest Project website. The website links farmers to consumers, restaurants, stores and institutions.
The Fort Drum workgroup briefed the Council on the Army’s plan to reduce its total force structure and the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization’s plan for a community response to the proposal. The Council reiterated its support of the North Country’s largest employer.
The Council also adopted the Advantage Adirondacks Economic Development Strategy and Plan, which presents a comprehensive strategy to achieve economic sustainability in the Adirondack Park.
The New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL) presented on the expansion of Governor Cuomo’s Unemployment Strikeforce, a multi-pronged campaign to target areas of the State with the highest unemployment rates and boost employment. In partnership with New York State, Empire State Development, the State Department of Labor and other partners, the Strikeforce will now be expanded and will include 10 counties, including four in the North Country: Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, and Franklin counties.
Additionally, the Higher Education and Research Development (HEARD) workgroup discussed its planned actions around several State programs, including START-UP NY, the Innovation Hot Spot Program and SUNY 2020. The Workforce Development group made a presentation regarding Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education, and workforce development in local schools.
Finally, the NCREDC provided an update on the status of all regional council projects, including a summary of the 2014 Regional Council awards. In December, the North Country Regional Council was awarded $63.4 million for 69 economic and community development projects.
The NCREDC, which is composed of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, is one of 10 regional councils across New York State that serve as a single point of contact for economic activity in the various regions. The NCREDC was awarded $63.4 million supporting 69 projects in 2014. The Council was named a “Top Performer” in 2013 and 2012, in addition to its Strategic Plan being named a “Best Plan Awardee” in December 2011. There are 291 projects across the region that have been awarded a total of 338.1 million in state support through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative and Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process in the statewide competition.